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No One Wants To Be Trump's Chief Of Staff After John Kelly Quits

What happens when you abuse your staff, run a criminally incompetent office, and embroil yourself in the biggest political scandal in 50 years?
Image via CNN

Image via CNN

What happens when you abuse your staff, run a criminally incompetent office, and embroil yourself in the biggest political scandal in 50 years? 

The answer, as president Trump has found out, is fairly simple: no one wants to work for you. 

Now that another vaguely sane member of his administration, Gen. John F. Kelly, has fled the sinking ship, Trump's pick for replacing him, 36 year old Nick Ayers, has also decided to do a runner. From the New York Times

As President Trump heads into the fight of his political life, the man he had hoped would help guide him through it has now turned him down, and he finds himself in the unaccustomed position of having no obvious second option.

Nick Ayers, the main focus of President Trump’s search to replace John F. Kelly as chief of staff in recent weeks, said on Sunday that he was leaving the administration at the end of the year. Mr. Ayers, 36, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, is returning to Georgia with his wife and three young children, according to people familiar with his plans.

The decision leaves Mr. Trump to contend with fresh uncertainty as he enters the 2020 campaign amid growing danger from the Russia investigation and from Democrats who have vowed tougher oversight, and could even pursue impeachment, after they take over the House next month.

According to multiple outlets, Ayers was by far the favorite to replace Kelly, and his decision to quit the administration at the last minute has come as a real shock to the White House. Trump has spent months battling Kelly, who tried his best to bring some discipline to the White House. Things got so bad between the president and Kelly that the two have reportedly stopped talking all together. Trump viewed Ayers as much more friendly to his style of governing, but Ayers seems to have weighed up the options and decided it simply wasn't worth the hassle. 

The Mueller probe's findings show with almost near certainty that the president committed criminal acts, meaning Trump isn't just facing impeachment in 2019, but actual jail time should he be voted out in 2020. Next year isn't going to be a fun for anyone associated with the White House, and with the Democrats controlling the House, Trump's staff are going to be held to extreme standards of integrity. Given the fact that Trump has a history of surrounding himself with unsavory characters (to say the least), we can expect many more to leave in the coming months as Democrats subject them to greater scrutiny.  

Nick Ayers' money problems?

The Times report notes that Ayers may have been worried about "newfound scrutiny of his personal finances," given last year he reported a net worth of $12.2 million to $54.8 million. According to CNN, Ayers' wealth has "Been built up through financial investments, fees generated by his own political consulting firm and his former role as a principal in an ad-buying firm called Target Enterprises, which has served as the media buyer on nearly every race Ayers has worked on since he joined in 2011."

It's an extraordinary sum of money for someone so young. Ayers' fortune comes from "political dark money" -- and with that comes serious baggage. As CNN reports, one of the companies he consulted for, Freedom Frontier "is the subject of two recent ethics complaints, the most recent of which was filed with the IRS on Tuesday. That complaint, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, contends the group's political spending exceeded legal limits in violation of campaign finance laws."

Ayers may well be above board when it comes to his personal finances, but he almost certainly wouldn't welcome the extra attention. And for what payoff? Working for Trump is so fraught with danger, it is amazing anyone is still there. There is an unprecedented churn rate in the White House for good reason -- it is impossible to do your job there, and by all accounts a deeply unpleasant experience. Trump has regular meltdowns, abuses his staff, and subjects them to merciless insults on Twitter after they invariably quit (and sometimes when they haven't).

Fleeing a sinking ship

Ayers clearly isn't stupid, and has decided his long term success is dependent on him getting as far away from Donald Trump as possible. He didn't just turn the job down, he left the administration completely, a sign he knows what is coming in 2019. According Vox, other potential hires for the job aren't exactly clamoring to fill the position being left by Kelly either. 

One thing we do know however, is that Trump's next pick will almost certainly be someone who won't challenge him or try to change his style of governing. And that only means more chaos, and more trouble for Trump.